Three-time Derby-winning rider Walter Swinburn dies at 55

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Walter Swinburn and Shergar after the 1981 Derby

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)  

 By Jack Haynes 6:26PM 12 DEC 2016 

WALTER SWINBURN, one of the finest jockeys of his generation who will forever be associated with brilliant Derby winner Shergar, has died at the age of 55.

Nicknamed the Choirboy, Swinburn memorably steered Shergar to an emphatic ten-length success in the Derby as a 19-year-old in 1981, the first of three wins in the Epsom Classic.  

Swinburn also won the Epsom feature on Shahrastani in 1986 and Lammtarra nine years later.

Born in Oxford, Swinburn rode his first winner, Paddy’s Luck, on July 12, 1978 at Kempton but gained considerable exposure for his winning ride on Shergar, easing the winner down before the line.

Winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Breeders’ Cup Turf among many other top-level prizes in a highly successful riding career, Swinburn enjoyed the many highs and lows in the life as a jockey before joining the training ranks in 2004, winning four Group 3 events with Stotsfold before handing in his licence in 2011.

Swinburn almost died after being catapulted into the running rail at Sha Tin, Hong Kong, in 1996, suffering multiple injuries, including a punctured lung, and was in a coma for four days.

Within six months, Swinburn was back on the track to record Turf success aboard the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Pilsudski in November 1996, but after suffering problems with his weight, Swinburn announced his retirement from the saddle in 2000.

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Shergar finishes alone under Swinburn at Epsom

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)  

Training predominantly for his father-in-law Peter Harris in Hertfordshire, Swinburn celebrated more than 250 winners in seven seasons as a trainer, including Royal Ascot success with Royal Hunt Cup scorer Julienas, before calling it a day five years ago due to “commercial reasons”.

Sir Michael Stoute, the trainer of Shergar, was among those to pay tribute on Monday, describing Swinburn as a “natural horseman with great hands”.

He added: “He had the right temperament for the big days and he thrived on them. He also had great positional sense in a race which stood him in good stead. We enjoyed many great days together but I would say our first Derby together with Shergar, when he was just 19, was an obvious one.

“I think Pilsudski winning at the Breeders Cup was also up there as it was our first win at Breeders’ Cup. He’ll be much missed.”

 
Horse Racing News | Racing Post

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